Monday, September 15, 2014

How It Develops


Hand in hand, we strolled through the counselor’s front doors.  Two couples ahead of us made their way into the conference room across the way.  I saw the white light of a large projector fill the room.  On the screen were five black words:

Sex Addiction: How it Develops

Devin and I entered the chair-filled room.  We took our seats in the back and made ourselves comfortable.  We had fifteen minutes before the presentation started.  As more people entered the room, Devin held my hand, and nodded to the men he knew.

My stomach tightened.  Why was I so nervous?  These people were here for the same reason we were.  They wanted to learn more about the addiction that plagued our families.  

I took a sip of water from my ice filled Camelbak and looked around.  Just like my husband, they were normal looking people.  You’d never know they all shared the common bond of sex addiction. 

Our counselor walked over and gave us each a hug, then settled into a seat behind us.  The room had the hushed tones of every anon meeting I’d attended. We all waited for the family counselor from Keystone Recovery too arrive.

The moment the doctor walked in, the room fell silent.  Devin’s hand tightened around mine as the counselor spoke.  I felt my head bob up and down as he talked about the similar backgrounds addicts shared; physical and/or emotional abuse, neglect, abandonment, or parents with substance abuse, just to name a few. 

Study after study showed the men and women who suffered from the addiction were unable to connect with anyone on an intimate level.  These addicts had been programmed from infancy to protect themselves by not allowing anyone into their personal thoughts and feelings.    

The addicts struggled with the ability to share their emotions with their partners for fear of rejection.  Their personalities ranged from arrogant, self-assured, or completely withdrawn from those who loved them the most.

When the lecture concluded, questions were asked.  The people in the room wanted to know how to prevent relapses, when it was save to have sex with their partner again, and how to move through their steps properly.

As we filed out of the room, I heard him say he was off to give another lecture the following day.  He’d been around the world, informing people about sex addiction.  It gave me hope that one day it’d make it into the DSM as an addiction and not a personality disorder.  

One day.




Wednesday I’m leaving town for a week to visit with my brother and mother.  Enjoy your week everyone!

38 comments:

  1. Anything done in excess to fill a void in life rather than deal with the issues should be called an addiction.
    Enjoy time with your family, Elsie!

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    1. I couldn't agree with you more, Alex! Even on the recovery side, addicts will immerse themselves in healthy behaviors but to excess because they don't have the ability to moderate in the beginning. Thank you, I can't wait to see everyone. It's been too long!

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  2. When I was getting my Master's in Counseling, I remember one of our professors saying that sex addiction should be in the DSM-IV as an addiction. Hopefully one day it will be.

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    1. I didn't know you had a Master's in Counseling, Keith. Go You! I always wanted a psych degree. Looking back, I wish I started on one in my twenties. Too late now!

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  3. I'm surprised sex addiction isn't in the DSM. Have a great time visiting your family!!! And if I haven't said it before, I love that adorable little turtle.

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    1. My counselor said they fought really hard to get it in there but they just couldn't make it happen. I guess they are planning to do some kind of push for next time.

      I love that turtle too. I found it a few weeks ago and adopted him as my little mascot. ;)

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  4. You'd think it would be there indeed. But I guess the stigma put on it by hollywood and the like keeps it from being so. Enjoy your time away, wait, didn't you just go away? Geez lol

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    1. You'd think it'd be in there. The research we learned the other night was documented back in the '80's through the present. They were already pulling narcism away from the addiction because not all of them were narcissistic but that's where it falls when they diagnose it now. Sad, really.

      Yeah, yeah. I've been a traveling fiend this summer!!

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    1. Thanks, Debra! It's been too long, so I'm super stoked!

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  6. "Personality disorder", "Addiction." Isn't that what they call a "distinction without a difference?" In any case, it would seem to ME that it IS an addiction.
    Enjoy your visit!

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    1. When you boil it all down, it really is the same isn't it? Something is wrong that needs to be addressed. I am excited about my trip!!

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  7. Glad that you are still doing well and that things continue to progress in your marriage. I hadn't realized that sex addiction was not an officially recognized thing. Pretty amazing, when you think about it, considering how prevalent it is in our society.

    Have a great trip!

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    1. I think it's a lot more common than people realize. With the availability of free porn online, it's only gotten worse. Thank you for the well wishes!

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  8. Seems to take the medical community a long time to catch up. Until enough medical voices say that it should be This Way it isn't. So, I think that eventually it will be classified as an addiction. Take heart!

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    1. It's funny you mention that. I was thinking the same thing as I wrote this last night. It took forever for the doctors to accept migraines en masse. I remember the days of being told it was all "in my head." Nice *eye roll* I think you're right. I think it'll be in the DSM the next go around.

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  9. Sex addiction, just like Compulsive shopping is marked as a taboo subject and that is a shame. Once judgements are dealt with and the medical community wise up they will be dealt with in the same way as other addictions and with a non-judgemental, compassionate manner.

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    1. It really is a shame, Birgit. I don't understand why it's so taboo. Addiction takes many forms. If it's not drugs or alcohol, it can be sex, food, shopping, gambling, etc. If it's compulsive and destroys, it's an addiction.

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  10. I think that chart would make a lot of us say, "Is that ME?" Have a safe trip!

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    1. Bingo, Chris! I think many of us can see ourselves in it. Thanks!!

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  11. One day it will be ~ I really appreciate the details Elsie as this is something new for me ~ Wishing you a lovely week and take care ~

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    1. I admit, I wonder sometimes if people are interested in things like this. I'm glad you were, thank you! Have a beautiful week!

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  12. Have a wonderful time with your family, Elsie. This was really compelling to read. I don't know a lot about psychology, but I am fascinated with how things travel down through the generations and manifest themselves in different ways. You are brave to confront this and share such difficult things. As first glance, I thought the chart was about the writing process! LOL! Enjoy your week!

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    1. It very well could be about writing hehe. There was a part of the lecture that discussed how different kids reacted differently in a home although they were in the same environment. Some had the ability to use the hardships in a positive way by committing to change and then excelled. Others were unable to cope and learned to perpetuate the cycle. Thanks - I'm so exited to see my family!!

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  13. in my limited experience the reasons for addiction there look like many of the same ones for people in any addiction. Ok some chemical addictions are due to the substance itself causing the craving but mostly you have to put a heck of a lot of that stuff into you before that really happens (I know there are exceptions...)

    However the real cause of my addiction (primary alcohol, secondary binge eating and a distant third relationships) was that I can't deal with emotions well and fear of rejection or failure and therefore rejection by ridicule was a crippling fear in me. Can I blame my parents? No they didn't impose any harsh regime I cooked it all up in my own head from an early age.

    In the end for me what causes it is less of an issue dealing with it on a daily basis ... no that is important to me.

    I do hope that it gets reclassified - I have a friend who is a shopaholic - people laugh at that, make fun of it think it isn't serious but I've experienced the genuine pain when she has opened a bag in front of me with yet more clothes she'll never wear in it and just sat there rocking back and forth crying saying "No one understands I just can't help myself over this". She is in recovery - slow and painful, not least as her husband divorced her and she has a debt that would cripple many countries to pay off over the rest of her life. Addiction is addiction and it is bloody awful to be in

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    1. The doctor talked about kids who grew up in a healthy environment - no addictions, or physical abuse, etc and it was interesting to hear his take on it. While I mistakenly thought I grew up in a very healthy home it wasn't until I started my steps that I realized just how unhealthy it was. First, I had my mom who, when I turned 15, was unable to handle my separation from her and it came out in verbal abuse. Did I think it was abuse at the time? No. It's all I knew. While my husband grew up in a home free of abuse, he was subject to rejection by his mom because he was a latch key kid, and when she was home, she wasn't "present." Others, like you, are influenced by your environment, those blasted kids, and it planted the seeds of rejection. It all boils down to the inability to handle our own feelings in a healthy way so we turn to whatever can soothe them or cover them up, even though it's temporary. Really interesting stuff.

      I'm sorry to hear about your friend. It is real and just as painful. Society just hasn't caught up with it all yet and that sucks.

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    2. "...I mistakenly thought I grew up in a very healthy home..."

      I thought I did as well... but I didn't...

      ~shoes~

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    3. Funny what we think is "normal" until we're all grown up….

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  14. Since they are unable to connect to people, I wonder how many are "RAD" babies? It's a term I learned when I became a foster parent. Because of a lack of loving, physical attention when they were babies, that part of them never develops and they are unable to make connections later in life.

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    1. It's quite possible. Some of them don't experience that attachment and don't know how to develop it properly so it shows up in unhealthy behavior later in life. I love you're a foster parent, Diane. I didn't know that :)

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  15. Is sex addiction a Personality Disorder in the DSM (4 or 5?) I didn't realize that. It's interesting to learn from you about the familiar patterns of sex addicts - the childhood experiences that led to troubles with intimacy. It makes sense. It also makes sense than so many people are challenged by sex addiction. I appreciate your honesty and I'm learning a lot from your writing about this, Elsie. Thank you.

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  16. I'm with Robyn. I appreciate you sharing. This may sound shallow, but I have a character who deals with the same issue, and learning more about it has been enlightening and rather sad at the same time. It makes me wonder how many people out there struggle similarly.

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  17. I can just imagine all the other nervous people there. It definitely sounds like there's a small moment of shared awkward before the silence broke.

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  18. I'm glad you have some support. I can't imagine having to deal with this on your own.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. I'm here to help any way I can.